Yesterday was Blog Action Day 08, and, in characteristic fashion I'm a day late. That's probably because the theme of Blog Action Day is poverty and that is a subject currently on my 'too hard to think about' list.
Poverty is a strange creature. How do you define something so relative? In some parts of the world it means an inability to meet the most basic needs for life. In others parts something rather more complex.
Raising awareness is laudable, but I'm just not convinced it makes any difference.
I'm not convinced because I have experienced the kind of poverty that means going hungry and there's something no charitable campaign will ever tell you.
People already know what poverty is. It's instinctive. Part of what makes us human. Think about it. Really think.
Think of the look in the eyes of every starving child the media has ever shown you. Think what it would really be like to be sleeping on the streets tonight. Think about having enough money to feed your children but not yourself. Think about being so cold you spend all your time huddled in bed, not even able to get up to wash yourself.
Think about how it feels when hope is dead.
You see, if you've been able to imagine how those things feel, how they really feel that is, then you'll have felt that sense of panic rising up within you, bubbling into the back of your throat, threatening to take hold and choke you. It's terrifying, so quite understandably no-one wants to feel that way. Best just push it back where it came from and be sure not to think about such horrors again.
Maybe even donate a bit of money to make sure it stays away.
So that's why I'm never sure that raising awareness about poverty is the right thing to do.
We all already know what poverty means.
We're just too afraid of how it feels to really want to.